General Howe drove Washington first from New York, and then Cornwallis drove then across New Jersey.
American cross back over the Delaware River
In early December, Washington had crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. Washington knew that morale was down because the Continental Army had yet to secure a victory on the battlefield against British Army regulars.
Fight is Delayed
General Washington knew that he and the Rebel cause needed some momentum before ending operations for the winter, so He decided to cross the Delaware River back into New Jersey and make a surprise attack on the British forces which had already settled into winter quarters.
American Victory in Trenton
On Christmas Night, what has been immortalized as 'The Crossing' took place in a snowstorm as Washington led his troops across the Delaware River and on to Trenton.
The rough weather had delayed General Washington's attack until 8:00 A.M., but the Hessian garrison had no patrols to sound a warning and the troops were still recovering from the late night Christmas celebrations. They waited outside of Trenton until 8.
Washington's force quickly overran outposts on the north and west of Trenton. They split the Hessian regiments and without taking more than a handful of casualties, routed the Hessians. Washington secured the victory and momentum he so desperately needed.